4 ETFs for a consumer rebound

Here are some ETFs that are well-positioned for a pickup in consumer spending this year.

By TheStreet Staff Feb 9, 2011 12:22PM

By Don Dion, TheStreet


Investors were greeted with promising news regarding consumer borrowing Tuesday. After two years of paring back in response to the global economic upheaval, increasing confidence appears to be spurring borrowing again.


According to BusinessWeek, consumer borrowing jumped 3% in December, highlighted by a 3.5% uptick in credit card usage, the first increase in 27 months.


For retail consumers, the economic healing process has been a slow, arduous process as unemployment and market turmoil has weighed heavily on sentiment and confidence.


In the opening weeks of 2011, we have seen evidence that a recovery is in the works for this essential economic component. As we head further into 2011, there will likely be headwinds in store for consumers. However, it may be a good idea to pick a consumer-related ETF to track this ongoing resurgence.

There are a number of options available for investors looking to target the consumer.


1.    SPDR S&P Retail ETF (XRT)


This retail-focused fund is a promising option for investors looking to capture companies that will benefit as increasingly confident shoppers head to malls and shopping centers.


Comprised of firms hailing from across the retail spectrum, this fund's index provides exposure to a collection of discounters, luxury players and teen retailers. Additionally, the fund boasts exposure to the automotive industry and other miscellaneous corners of the retail industry.


XRT's top holding include Jo-Ann Stores (JAS), Sears (SHLD), AutoNation (AN), Office Depot (ODP), and Ulta Salon (ULTA).


2.    First Trust Dow Jones Internet Index Fund (FDN)


The Internet is becoming increasingly engrained into our day to day lives, leading more and more consumers to turn to e-commerce in order to get their retail fixes. During the 2010 holiday season, online retailers scored a landmark victory, with Cyber Monday sales topping $1 billion and outpacing Black Friday's numbers.


FDN combines exposure to some of the most attractive names hailing from the internet industry including top online consumer focused firms such as Google (GOOG), Amazon (AMZN), eBay (EBAY) and Netflix (NFLX). These firms will see strength as desks and sofas become the go-to destinations for shopping experiences.


3.     PowerShares Dynamic Leisure & Entertainment Portfolio (PEJ)


According to a survey conducted by Travelocity, an increasing number of consumers appear to be putting trips and vacations on their lists of things to do this year. 35% of individuals responding to the poll indicated that they expect to increase travel during the year. Meanwhile, only 1% expected to stay at home.


Investors hoping to profit as consumers look to escape from the office for some rest and relaxation should turn to PEJ. Although restaurants make up the largest slice of the fund's index, entertainment and travel-related companies such as Carnival (CCL), Priceline (PCLN), Wyndham (WYN) and Penn National Gaming (PENN) make an impressive showing and will heavily influence the fund's performance down the road.


4.    iShares Dow Jones U.S. Consumer Goods Index Fund (IYK)


Whereas XRT, FDN, and PEJ provide investors with focused exposure to individual aspects of the consumer market, IYK is a fund investors can turn to in order to gain catch-all exposure to the ongoing consumer recovery. This fund's portfolio is comprised of over 120 companies from the consumer staples and consumer discretionary corners of the marketplace.


IYK's top holdings are a who's who of consumer-related firms, with Proctor & Gamble (PG), Coca-Cola (KO), Philip Morris (PHL), Pepsi (PEP) and Ford (F) topping the list. This week's earnings schedule has and will continue to influence IYK's performance as a number of the fund's largest positions report their quarterly performance numbers.

Although headwinds such as rising commodity prices may result in a shakeup down the road, the consumer will likely remain an exciting region of the market to watch as we continue along the path to recovery. By keeping exposure small and maintaining a close watch, conservative investors holding these funds can gain direct exposure and successfully navigate the consumer resurgence.


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